The Nature Conservancy Closes Van Buren Office, but Continues Dedicated Conservation Work in the Ozarks
Since 1956, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Missouri has been working on the ground to further its mission to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Those efforts have resulted in over 150,000 acres of land protected across the state, hundreds of miles of protected streams and countless partnerships established to protect Missouri’s unique and critical landscapes.
“In 2021, we will be celebrating 65 years of dedicated conservation work in Missouri,” says Adam McLane, state director for The Nature Conservancy in Missouri. “I am so proud of the work that we’ve accomplished in those 65 years and the relationships we’ve built with local, state and federal partners that have allowed us all to get big things done and that continue to guide and innovate solutions for the future.”
As times change, so do the needs of the organization. “We’ve had an office in Van Buren for 25 years, and it’s been an asset to us as we established our work in the region,” says McLane. “But in recent years, we’ve noticed that our staff – understandably in our line of work – are more likely to be found in the field than in the office.”
While the physical office will be closed, it does not affect any staff positions. “We have some amazingly talented people working for TNC in the Ozarks,” McLane says. “Those staff range in locations from near Cape Girardeau to Springfield and points in between, really covering the full extent of the eastern and western Ozarks.”
TNC donated furniture, supplies and other items from the Van Buren office to local organizations that help advance its mission of a more sustainable planet. One of those organizations, NatureCITE, a taxonomy and ecology research organization with a strong emphasis on outreach and education, received herbarium cabinets and a microscope light.
“The generous donation of the laboratory equipment will help NatureCITE in its studies and ultimate mission,” says Justin Thomas, science director for NatureCITE. “As they did in the Van Buren office, the herbarium cabinets will continue to house relevant plant and lichen specimens for studies focused on better understanding and sharing the natural beauty and complexity of the Ozarks. They will protect collections of plant and lichen species that are new, rare or unresolved for the Ozarks, Missouri and in the purview of contemporary floristics. They will literally and figuratively hold a better understanding of the world around us.”
The Ozark region has always been a top priority landscape for TNC. “This region provides a critical breeding habitat for migratory birds and is home to hundreds of globally significant species,” says McLane. “Our work here with partners is to ensure river conservation and long-term forest health and productivity. We accomplish that through collaborated efforts of landowner outreach, stewardship of our owned properties and conservation practices such as prescribed fire.”
In 2008, through a generous donation, TNC established the Ozarks Conservation Buyer Fund, which has protected over 12,300 acres of vulnerable land and returned it to the market with a conservation easement.
“This program helps to protect the region’s rich biodiversity, while keeping lands available for recreation and restricting incompatible development,” says McLane.
More recently in 2015, TNC expanded its work in the Ozarks with the launch of the Western Ozark Waters Initiative.
“This work focuses on water conservation and stewardship of four river systems in the western Ozarks — the Elk and Spring rivers in Missouri, and the Kings and Buffalo rivers in Arkansas,” says McLane. “Not only do these rivers provide local communities with drinking water, but they contribute immensely to the local economies through tourism and recreation.”
While our resources and landscapes will continue to face a host of challenges, TNC is as determined as ever to bring all hands on deck to deploy effective, forward-looking solutions that produce tangible, lasting results.
“We’re building on years of conservation work, guided by strong science, and continue to do so for nature’s sake and for the well-being of future generations,” says McLane.
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.